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Asus ZenWifi XD5 Review (vs ZenWifi XD4): A Solid and Improved Mini Mesh

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The ZenWiFi XD5 does not complete what the ZenWifi XD4 set out to start -- it's similarly stripped-down hardware in terms of features. But it does have everything the older cousin had and then some noteworthy improvements.

I reviewed the ZenWifi XD4 in June 2020 and called it the first "complete AiMesh set," thanks to the fact it features AiMesh 2.0, supporting system-wide Guest networking, right out of the box. But its online protection and QoS features were not as robust as other AiMesh hardware of larger physical sizes.

More than two years later, the ZenWiFi XD5, released in late 2022, has improved performance. But it retains the mini designs and the miniaturized feature set.

Here's the bottom line: If you're living in a wired home, the ZenWifi XD5 is still an excellent buy, considering its friendly current price tag of $300 for a 3-pack. Better yet, you can use it as the wired satellite for an AX3000 AiMesh router, such as the RT-AX58U or GS-AX3000, to form a relatively inexpensive yet robust Wi-Fi system.

The ZenWifi XD5 works well in a fully wireless configuration, too, but in this case, you'll need to cut its speed at least in half at the satellites.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 3 pack
The Asus ZenWifi XD5 is available in a 3-pack of three identical routers.

Asus ZenWiFi XD5: Everything the ZenWifi XD4 is and a bit more

Out of the box, the new ZenWiFi XD5 looks practically identical to the older cousin. It's a 3-pack mesh that includes three identical compact routers.

The ZenWifi XD4 originally included a router unit and a satellite-only unit, but since its launch, it has also been available as three identical routers.

You pick one to work as the primary router of the network, and the other two will function as mesh satellite nodes to extend the coverage for a large area.

For now, it's available as a 3-pack, but chances are you'll find it as a single router or a 2-pack in the future.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 AiMesh
Here's the Asus ZenWifi XD5 working as a 3-pack mesh system. You can daisy-chain the satellite wirelessly (not recommended) or via wired backhauling.

If you get a pack, the hardware is pre-synced -- all you have to do is set one up as the router and plug the other two into power, and they will form a mesh network.

However, the hardware will work as a member of an AiMesh system when coupled with other support routers. In that case, you can set them up the way you do any AiMesh router, as I detailed in this post.

Asus ZenWiFi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4: Hardware specifications

The most significant difference between the ZenWifi XD5 vs ZenWiFi XD4 is that the former is a dual-band system that supports the 160 MHz channel width, while the latter doesn't.

Consequently, the XD5 has double the Wi-Fi bandwidth on the 5GHz band. Specifically, the current 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 client can connect to it at 2.4Gbps instead of 1.2Gbps.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Router Underside ZenWiFi XD4 Router Underside
ZenWifi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4 (right): Note how the former is wall-mount-ready, and the latter is not. Their undersides are the only place you can tell them apart, by the way.

However, considering both are Gigabit hardware, they will deliver the same sustained speed in any particular connection since their network ports are the bottleneck.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Top and Bottom Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 12
Full NameAsus ZenWiFi XD5Asus ZenWiFi
AX Mini (XD4)
Hardware ModelsZenWiFi XD5Mesh: ZenWifi XD4
Router: XD4R
Satellite: XD4N
Mesh Availability3-pack
(identical routers)
3-pack
(identical routers, or
router + satellites)
Wi-Fi BandwidthDual-band
AX3000
Dual-band
AX1800
Dedicated Backhaul BandNoneNone
Wired BackhaulYes
(recommended)
Yes
(recommended)
Dimensions (WxDxH)3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 in
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 in
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
Weight
0.67 lb (304 g)
XD4R: 0.65 lb (295 g) 
XD4N: 0.64 lb (290 g)
ColorBlack or whiteBlack, white, wood pattern
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs2x2 AX: Up to 2400 Mbps 
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2x2 AX: Up to 1200 Mbps 
(20/40/80MHz)
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2x2 AX: Up to 574Mbps2x2 AX: Up to 574Mbps
Wi-Fi SecurityWPA3 / WPA2 / WPA WPA3 / WPA2 / WPA 
Backward Compatibility802.11b/a/g/n/ac802.11b/a/g/n/ac
Mobile AppAsus RouterAsus Router
Web User InterfaceYes Yes 
AP ModeYes 
(single unit or a system)
Yes 
(single unit or a system)
USB PortNoneNone
Gigabit Port1x WAN
1x LAN
XD4R: 1x WAN, 1x LAN
XD4N: 1x LAN
Link AggregationNoNo
Dual-WANNoNo
Power Input100-240V100-240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
105 Wh
(measured at the router unit)
Not measured
Processing PowerUndisclosedQuad-core SoC Processor,
256MB Flash, 256MB RAM 
US Price
(at launch)
$300$280
Hardware specifications: Asus ZenWiFi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4

Other than that, the XD5's hardware is wall-mount-ready and includes mounting accessories, while the XD4 is not.

Asus ZenWiFi XD5: Detail photos

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Retail BoxAsus ZenWifi XD5 Box Content
The Asus ZenWifi XD5's retail box and the content. Note the mounting accessories.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Includes three idential routers
Asus ZenWifi XD5 Includes three identical routers. Or you can say this is a picture of a ZenWifi XD4 set. Nobody can tell.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Underside
The underside of an Asus ZenWifi XD5 router. Note how compact the hardware is.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Power Adapter
Each Asus ZenWifi XD5 router comes with a relatively compact 100-240V power adapter.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Underside Plugged InAsus ZenWifi XD5 Ports
A ZenWifi XD5's underside with and without network cables is installed.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Front Light
An Asus ZenWifi XD5 in action
Note its front status light, which flashes or pulses to show the condition of the hardware.

The same (stripped-down) set of features and settings

At the time of this review, the ZenWifi XD5 shares the same major firmware version (386) as the ZenWifi XD4 and an identical feature set.

Tips on Asus's firmware

Asus regularly releases firmware updates, a Linux-based operating system called Asuswrt, for its routers. Many of these updates add new features to the hardware -- they do more than patch security vulnerabilities.

Some updates may inadvertently cause a particular model to go haywire, likely because the company tries to do so much with its routers.

As a result, firmware can be a tricky thing with Asus. When it comes to updating -- especially in an AiMesh setup of mixed hardware units using wireless backhauling -- keep the following three items in mind:

  1. Avoid the initial major release(*): This is the first firmware version of a model where the 3xx number changes, such as from 384 to 386 or from 386 to 388. Generally, the latest minor update of the previous major firmware release is always the most stable.
  2. Avoid using Auto-Update for firmware: You should update the firmware when you see fit instead of letting the hardware update itself.
  3. Version consistency (in a mesh system): Generally, it would be best to use the firmware version of the same major release for all AiMesh members. (Mixing hardware of different releases might produce mixed results.)

(*) How to read an Asus router's firmware: As shown in the screenshot below, in a particular official firmware version, such as 3.0.0.4.386_47629, the 3xx number in the middle denotes Asus's home-grown major release. The following number -- often includes five digits, such as 47629 in the screenshot -- indicates a minor update.

(A firmware version that starts with 9.x.x.x instead of 3.x.x.x is a beta release meant for testing purposes only.)

Asus firmwaremajor minor release
The major release (3 digits) and minor update (5 digits) in an Asus router firmware version.

The part before that -- 3.0.0.4 in the screenshot -- is the Linux kernel version that will also change, albeit much less frequently. It's even more significant and should also be taken into consideration.

On the one hand, moving between major releases might break your AiMesh setup or even your standalone router. On the other, new hardware comes with a specific initial version out of the box -- you have no option to downgrade it -- and some old models won't get the latest release. So depending on the mesh combo, your luck will vary.

AiMesh started as an add-on feature with firmware version 384 in early 2018 -- represented by the RT-AC86U -- and was stable by the latest minor update of this version. In early 2020, Asus released version 386, buggy in the early stages, to add AiMesh 2.0 via the introduction of the ZenWifi product line. By late 2022, version 386 became fully mature, and Asus started releasing version 388, and the history repeated itself. So on and so forth.

As a rule, in a mesh system, it's best to wait for a few minor updates of a major release before upgrading. Depending on the hardware combo, you might need to rebuild the system from scratch or reset and re-add a satellite node if you change the major firmware version (in one or all hardware units involved.)

And that's significant in the sense that the two share the same shortcomings, which are not present in other ZenWifi mesh sets (such as XD6, XT8, or ET8). That's likely because they have a similar mini-physical size and relatively low processing power.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 AiProtectionAsus ZenWifi XD5 QoS
The ZenWifi XD5's QoS and AiProtection are equally poor as the case of the XD4.

Specifically, the ZenWifi XD5's QoS feature is also somewhat simplistic. All you can do is turn it on and hope for the best. Additionally, the AiProtection feature's network protection part doesn't have the Two-Way Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) portion

Two-way IPSP is significant since it protects the network from spam, DDoS, and other attacks, even when a computer within a network is compromised.

Note on Asus's privacy policy

Before turning on some features, an Asus router shows a warning, as shown in the screenshot below.

Asus Privacy Message
Asus routers' ominous privacy warning you need to consent to before using some features.

The said features only work because a third-party scans the router's traffic. That's the nature of any protection -- a security detail will include somebody who watches over you -- there's no way around that.

So, these features inherently cause privacy risks. But they are turned off by default, and you can leave them that way to use an Asus router without sharing data with the vendor.

Privacy and security are a matter of degree, and data collection varies from one company to another. Here's the Taiwanese hardware vendor's Privacy Policy.

But despite that, the ZenWifi XD5 still has vast home networking customization. It has more settings and features than virtually all non-Asus canned mesh systems.

Most importantly, you won't need to pay for any add-on or log in with a vendor account to use and manage it, locally or remotely, via the web user interface or the Asus mobile app.

And if you have used an ASUS router before, you'll feel at home with the new mesh.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 VPN Asus ZenWifi XD5 Guest Network
Though modest compared to other Asus routers, the ZenWifi XD5 still has a far better feature set than any other non-Asus canned mesh system. Shown here are its VPN and Guest networking features.

ZenWiFi XD5: Excellent performance

I put a 3-pack ZenWiFi XD5 through its paces for over a week and was happy with it. The system proved reliable with zero disconnection.

For Internet speed, in a wireless star topology, we generally got between 200Mbps to 600Mbps -- out of a 10Gbps Fiber-optic connection that was throttled down to Gigabit by the router's WAN port -- around the house. That was fast enough for virtually all applications.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Router Long Range PerformanceAsus ZenWifi XD5 Router Close Range Performance
The ZenWifi XD5's sustained Wi-Fi speed when working as a single router or a wired satellite node.

In terms of Wi-Fi sustained speeds, in my testing, the ZenWifi XD5 landed right between the XD4 and the XD6, which was expected. Considering the Gigabit ports, there's no way the system could deliver anything faster than a Gig, despite its support for up to 2.4Gbps on the Wi-Fi front.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Satellite Close Range PerformanceAsus ZenWifi XD5 Satellite Long Range Performance
The ZenWifi XD5's sustained Wi-Fi speed when working as a wireless satellite with a direct connection to the primary router.

In terms of coverage, the ZenWifi XD5 was slightly better than the XD4. But that's more likely because its 5GHz band has a high ceiling speed.

It's hard to put this in a number, but generally, you can expect a single unit to cover some 1600 ftΒ² (149 mΒ²) though your mileage will vary. For best performance and coverage, wired backhauling is recommended.

Asus ZenWiFi XD5's Rating

8.3 out of 10
Asus ZenWifi XD5 Box
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Supporting 160MHz channel width; reliable performance with fast performance (for the specs)

Excellent set of network and Wi-Fi settings and features

No vendor account or add-on subscription is required; Guest networking works throughout the system

Compact design; wall-mount-ready

Cons

No Wi-Fi 6E, Multi-Gig port, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation

Stripped-down QoS and AiProtection features

Only two network ports per unit

Conclusion

The ZenWiFi XD5 is a clear improvement over the ZenWifi XD4 that came out some two years ago. It has enough to justify its current $300 cost for a 3-pack.

If you're looking for a reliable mesh system for a sub-Gigabit home network, this new set of mini hardware is an excellent buy.

And if you have a wired home, it'll consistently deliver Gigabit-class bandwidth throughout by itself or when working as AiMesh satellites hosted by a similar-specced router.

As it seems, the ZenWifi XD5 is the base for Asus's upcoming first MoCA-enabled mesh set, the ZenWiFi hybrid XC5.

But if you can live with a slightly slower connection speed, the ZenWifi XD4 is now also an excellent deal thanks to its reduced price tag.

So if you have relatively modest Wi-Fi needs, check either of them out today!

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27 thoughts on “Asus ZenWifi XD5 Review (vs ZenWifi XD4): A Solid and Improved Mini Mesh”

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  1. I have an asus ZenWiFi XD5 mesh system set up with wired backhauling. From one of the satellite devices, I’d hoped to be able to use the LAN port to connect a pc to the network for internet access. However the pc doesn’t seem to get a signal – the nic shows as disconnected. Why would this be true, is there a setting I can change to get it to fly? The router software shows that DHCP is turned on, and both devices I’ve tried to run from the satellite by wire use DHCP to get an ip address. The backhaul connection priority on the two satellites is set to 1G WAN first; the other options are 5Ghz WiFI first and Auto (it defaulted to auto).

    Reply
      • Interesting reply. Certainly the pcs have good nics, I will check the cable. But you’re confirming that the LAN port on these units can operate much like the port on a switch, relaying the incoming signal from the WAN/LAN port. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Yeap, that’s the case — more here. And I tried that out in every review. If something amiss, I’d note that in the review of the particular hardware. So far, I’ve never run into the issue. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen from one firmware version to another but it’s highly unlikely and definitely unintended.

          Reply
  2. Hello Dong,

    I have an Asus RT-AX86U for my router. Can i connect a pair of these to my aimesh network as wireless nodes? I would do ethernet backhauling but unfortunately I cannot so I would like to use these as range extenders.

    Thanks and cheers!

    Reply
  3. hi dong. can i use a 3 pack of the XD5 as wireless nodes of a mesh system with a ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 as the main router?

    Reply
  4. Hi Dong,

    I wonder if you can help, as you’ve knowledge of the Asus mesh range.

    What’s the difference between the XD4 Plus, the AX Mini (XD4) and the XD5?

    Many thanks,

    S.

    Reply
  5. Hi Dong.

    I currently use a AX5400 as my primary router (connected to a Fibre ONT for 500Mbps) and wanted to improve wifi coverage across a large, 2 storey home.

    Would the XD5 provide a solution to this, working with the AX5400 as the main router (and connection to the modem)?
    Would the XD5 with more nodes, provide better coverage than something like the XT8/9 with fewer, more powerful nodes?

    Thank you

    πŸ™‚

    Reply
      • Thanks for the link. I’m still a little confused, though as I can’t use wired backhauling (Powerline networking is my only wired option, but that’s the buttleneck I’m trying to overcome now), it would appear that I’m after tri-band units, such as the XT8/9s. Though with my current setup, the TUF AX5400 would be a new bottleneck, being only dual band!

        Haha, this is more complex than I expected!

        Feels like a bit of a gamble now! at least Amazons return policy is pretty good.

        Thanks again Dong πŸ™‚

        Reply
  6. Will this work? My home is wired and I use wired as much as possible, including for AP wired backhaul. This works currently with Eero (2020, basic model), but I want to get away from Eero. I can’t use Netgear or TP-Link because they cannot provide a guest network for IoT while in AP mode. Additionally, I need 3 nodes for townhome coverage. Thank you!
    Modem (bridge) OPNsense/Zenarmor 2.5g Switch PC, AppleTV, Mac, Asus XD5 (access point) x3

    Reply
  7. Doug
    I sent you this by email and you answered and pointed me here for comments.

    I’ve been reading your site now for 5 days, it’s outstanding. My system now is HughesNet and DirecTv, I live in the country. I’m getting ready to dump both and go to InterMax, they have a tower close by. I will be under 100MBps, but that’s better than HughesNet.

    Coverage-I have 2,000 sqft rectangular basement with a 2,000 sqft rectangular main (4,000 sqft) total. House is wired with CAT6, 3 TV’s downstairs, 3 TV’s upstairs with two wired offices (total 8). Mechanical room downstair (modem & router), with 5 additional devices wired (audio/video). Modem to router to 16 port switch (no PoE). I will be 90% wired use and 10% WiFi use (tablet/laptop, and guest). Based on your articles, I’m a prime candidate for dual-band WiFi6 mesh system. I plan a mesh router in mechanical room, and 1-2 nodes in offices. They are located at each end of the main floor. I will hardwire the nodes and then wire the desktops from the node, thus backhaul is accomplished wired.

    Speed-is not an issue, not with less than 100 MBps.

    Features-TBD since I’m not a Tech person.

    Unit-Based on your 5 recommendations for a wired house and minor WiFi, ASUS ZenWiFi XD6. This is only a 2-pack system. No Multi-Gig or Link aggregation, I do not think I need either. No USB port, nice to have. How do I determine 2 or 3 pack is required for WiFi?

    Based on my input, am I reading you correctly?

    You answered: For your case, almost any combo would work. But I’d recommend the XD5. You can also pair and nice router with a couple of cheaper satellites. Make sure you follow this post for setting things up.

    From above you said: Better yet, you can use it as the wired satellite for an AX3000 AiMesh router, such as the RT-AX58U or GS-AX3000, to form a relatively inexpensive yet robust Wi-Fi system.

    I understand about your recommendation to me about using the ADX5 ‘s over the ADX6, my question is the alternative?

    Alternative: GS-AX3000 as my router (better than the ADX5 as a router), what would be my 2-nodes/satellite for the office space? What matches my parameters?

    Again, thank you for your feedback on my email! I have sent your site to three of my friend working on a new WIFI system.

    Reply
      • Doug
        Per your feedback: Deductive Reasoning, me?
        Read your two post and others

        DX5 AiMesh System
        Simple setup with 2 nodes with 2 Lan ports for wired backhaul and wired desktops
        Cost: $220

        Comb: Better Router
        ROG STRIX GS-AX3000-router
        DX5 nodes
        Need 2-Lan ports for wired backhaul and wire desktops
        Extra node place in basement end room as wireless
        Cost $170 + $220 = $390

        Any recommendation for primary router vice the GS-AX3000 you recommended? From the router then pick the nodes.

        Michael

        Reply
          • Dong
            Two question:

            Projected comb mesh system; GS-AX3000 and XD5. One node will be in my office, wire it only has 1-LAN remaining out. I can buy a switch to feed printer (network), laptop and desktop. Or, buy another AX-3000 with 4-LAN ports. Economics not an issue, reliablity is !

            I’m dropping HughsNet and getting InterMax (Idaho). They said I do not need a modem, they use radio signal and CAT6 wire to router. Is the signal digital and not analog that needs converting by a modem?

            Thanks again for you assistance!

            Michael

          • First, it’s helpful to understand things in princple, Michael.

            1. If you have a LAN port that’s part of a network then you can use a switch with it, that’s how a switch is — it turns a single port into multiple ports. As for AiMesh, this post details how to set one up.
            2. Generally a modem is only needed to convert a service signal (TV, phone, etc) into network signals. That’s what a modem is. A network device attach a device of any fucntion to a network. For example, a printer prints but if it’s a network printer then you can connect it to a network (instead of a single computer via an USB cable). We don’t use a modem to convert data signal into papers.

            Then with a bit of deductive reasoning, you can answer your questions yourself.

  8. Hi Dong. Thanks for all the info! I purchased an XD5 pack and planned to use two satellites with wired backhaul to the primary node. I overlooked the fact there are not enough LAN ports to support both satellites. In a sub-gig home, is attaching a network switch to the primary sufficient, or should I opt for a more sophisticated AiMesh host?

    Reply
  9. Kinda wondering if 160mhz and improved range, however marginal, is worth the upgrade from xd4 to xd5…
    Oh and I think there’s a mistake in the hardware specifications table, because 160mhz is missing from xd5 in there.

    Reply

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